We being our tour at Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire, built in 657 AD. It was originally named “Streoneshalh”(translation: “Fort Bay”) in reference to an earlier Roman settlement at the site. The monastery was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540 AD and the ruins are now maintained by the English Heritage Trust. Whitby Abbey sustained damaged during WW1 and was also famously featured in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula. Among the notable burials at the site are two kings, Osqiu of Northumbria and Edwin of Deira, a crusader, Sir William de Percy, and a signatory of the Magna Carta, Sir Richard de Percy.
Next stop, Kells Priory, south of the medieval city of Kilkenny in Ireland. This monastery was founded in 1193 AD and is surrounded by medieval tower houses that give it the look of a fortress.
During it’s first 150 years, the structure was attacked and burned on three occasions. Recent excavations have uncovered over 10,000 archeological finds including floor tiles and painted window glass.
We must travel by boat to see our last stop on this short journey, Skellig Michael. This monastary was built by monks on rocky isolated islands in the 6th century.
The monastery at Skellig Michael had a self-contained water collection and purifaction system, and was believed to host no more than 12 monks at a time. There was also a Viking attack in 823 AD.
These beautiful ruins are a small snippet compared to the riches of historical sites to be found in the ancient celtic lands. I love the greenery and I’m imagining grazing fluffy sheep dotting the horizon – although I’m glad to have a cozy blanket in the winter looking at the cold stone ruins where so many monks made their homes so long ago!
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